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Accident Report Detail

Capsizing of Questar Motorboat and Drowning of Operator South of Shelter Island

Executive Summary

​On August 21, 1994, a disabled 18-foot Questar motorboat with the vessel’s owner and one passenger on board capsized while being towed by the Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel Puppet immediately south of Shelter Island, Lynn Canal, near Juneau, Alaska. The Questar’s owner, who was mildly disabled, was trapped inside the vessel’s cabin and was drowned. The passenger was not injured. In examining the Coast Guard’s safety management during the 1994 Golden North Salmon Derby and the incident involving the Questar, the  Safety Board identified five significant safety issues: communications during the derby, policy on the use of Coast Guard Auxiliary resources in hazardous weather and sea conditions, policy on removal of passengers from towed vessels, risk assessment training of Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel involved in search and rescue operations, and policy on postaccident toxicological testing of Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel involved in marine accidents.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the Questar’s capsizing was the flooding of the vessel due to use of improper towing procedures by the Coast Guard Auxiliary operator of the Puppet. Contributing to the capsizing was the failure of the Puppet’s operator to properly assess risk before deciding to tow the vessel in hazardous sea conditions. Contributing to the loss of life was the failure of the Puppet’s operator to remove the Questar’s operator and passenger before towing the vessel.

Accident Location: Juneau , AK   Shelter Island, Lynn Canal
Accident Date: 6/21/1994
Accident ID: DCA95MM032

Date Adopted: 11/26/1996
NTSB Number: MAR-96-01-S
NTIS Number: PB97-916401